Featured Activity: Geocaching
Ah, Spring! You are ready to break free from the winter doldrums and soak up the ever-increasing sunshine. If you are like me, you've spent the winter searching happyly for new hikes, playgrounds, and adventures to fill the ever-growing daylight hours. The only problem is.... the kids are not always keen on this plan.
That is where geocaching comes in! It's the motivation you need to keep those kids moving down the trail or get excited about checking out a new park. Even better, you only need your phone and a few trinkets to get started.
Geocaching is a global treasure hunt packed with educational benefits. Kids will learn some navigation skills like cardinal directions and estimating distances. They'll hone observational techniques by looking for the geocache vessel and puzzling out clues, and they can practice handwriting their names and date in the cache before putting it back where you found it.
Here is how you get started
- Download a free geocaching app like this one from Geocaching.com.
- Search for a geocache near you.
- Follow the app toward the geocache and start looking around until you find it.
- Take a trinket. Leave a trinket. Sign the log.
- Return the geocache to where you found it.
It's really that simple!
In the Geocaching app, you will find the name and a description of the geocache. (These usually contain some clues about the geocache itself. ) You also get information about the difficulty and terrain. Difficulty refers to how easy it will be to find, and terrain tells you how much of a physical challenge it will be to get to it. I suggest starting with easy finds until you get the hang of it.
Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes. The app will tell you what size cache you are looking for. You want to start with "regulars" and above. These are the most likely to contain treasure.
My ten-year-old is currently obsessed with finding "micros." These caches only contain logbooks in the form of rolled-up tiny paper, but it's all about the challenge. He loves running his hand along things looking for a fake bolt or small magnet that shouldn't be there. The five-year-old is all about the treasure - so we stick to the bigger finds with him.
Geocaching Tips and Tricks
The comment section is a great place to look for tips and tricks about the cache you are looking for. Make sure someone has found it recently so that you are not looking around for something that is no longer there. People also leave clues in the comments to make them easier to find.
Most state and national parks have official geocaches in the park - you can learn more about the sight-specific webpage or ask about it at the visitors center. (You can even search for Geocaching at NPS's Find Your Park webpage.) Some cities even have geocaching trails you can follow.
Even More Geocaching
Like any activity, there are many ways to get "more into" geocaching.
You can purchase a premium membership to your geocache app that will give you a larger database of caches to find and new ways to search for the caches.
You can also purchase a GPS device specifically for the purpose of geocaching. The phone works just fine, but the GPS device is more accurate. It also would allow you to geocache when you don't have phone service coverage.
You can enter the world of geocaching trackable. These little tokens are moved from cache to cache. If you find one, you log where you took it from and where you dropped it off. We love moving these and seeing where they have been. Our boys each got one of their own that they set loose on one of our trips and track to see all the places people have taken it.
Geocaching is my go-to "keep the kids motivated" activity that is in my parenting toolbox. Sometimes we plan specific geocaching outings, and other times I look them up as we go or when morale is falling. If one kid wants to keep playing at the playground, another parent may lead a group to go find a cache. It's also a wonderful way to break up a long drive!
Have you tried geocaching before? What are some of the fun places your family has found caches!? If you have a photo of your kids enjoying this fun treasure hunting game, tag us in it on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!
Interested in other fun activities that will get the kids outside? Read up on our Building a Family Garden article or how to make the most of Little Free Libraries! Now that it's starting to warm up, there are also a number of other activities to do with kids other than the traditional park days. Check out our How to Hike with Kids Guide and enjoy a fun day out with the family. If snuggling up inside on a rainy spring day is more your style, here are Top 10 Chapter Books to Read to Your Kids!
For even more local activities and attractions at your fingertips, be sure to download the happyly app, the country's only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to all of our frequent blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.